Johnnie To (Hong Kong, 2006)
(Fong juk). A gang of hitmen descends on the former Portuguese colony of Macao in Exiled, a leisurely tribute to the bullet ballets and male-bonding reveries of Sam Peckinpah that finds To slowing down to enjoy the talents of his cast. Reuniting such familiar faces as Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, and Lam Suet, To presents the simple tale of “retired” gangster Wo whose hope for a new life with his wife and baby is about to be thwarted by the appearance of other hitmen, two of whom are there to kill him, the other two to protect him. In the standoff that ensues, the hit men forget to hit, and become mere men: dinners are cooked, homes restored, and memories savored, but gunplay is never far away. An engrossing portrait of gunmen as ordinary individuals (give or take their great fashion sense), Exiled excels through its appealing cast, whose easygoing camaraderie gives the film a joy all its own.
• Written by Szeto Kam-yuen, Yip Tin-shing. Photographed by Cheng Siu-keung. With Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Nick Cheung, Josie Ho. (110 mins, In Cantonese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Magnolia Pictures)